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Bob Elliott
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Bob Elliott

10/26/2008 10:01:20 AM

The Strange and the Accessible
I think that is really what I'm trying to blend. The strange and the catchy. I think it's pretty much always been the purpose. Something so odd. Maybe the timing is 3 beats to the measure for some things combined with 4 beats to the measure for others. Or something in the chord pattern to try to maybe move those chords over a bass note that shouldn't hold them all but can. And the words to be what was not said, and to be some of the things I think about that most people don't talk about with me because it's not ordinary and....

Well, I like the strange, but I don't have much use for strange that is not accessible, not catchy. I am also driven by what makes things lasting and irresistible for the biggest amount of types of people. My fascination with the Beatles stems from the way the were able to lodge into such a large portion of humanity. It's rare to find a person that doesn't like any Beatles song at all.

So standards fascinate me with their melodic power.

And I want both those things: the very strange, and the very accessible. I guess for many years I've dreamed of a music that pushes the limits of each. Something so odd going on, and yet it seems so catchy.

It's a way to get the musical space in new ways in our minds: here is your new pattern linked to a more common and inviting thought, and now they both enter.

Years ago a friend and I were going to write a large series of songs together based on African polyrhythms, one time superimposed upon another within the same measure. It's trippy polyrhythms, but they're trance inducing to me. But we wanted to write melodies that were as pop catchy as could be, and meld them with the odd rhythms and also even push the boundaries a bit in chord structure and such.

I don't think I ever gave those ideas up, though I do wish my friend and I could live in the same town.

I've always wanted to push the boundaries of strangeness without the listener having to actually notice that has happened. There's something different, sure, but it should be seamless. It's not an academic exercise, it has to make organic music you can feel. That you want to dance to, that you want to sing.

I have also done a lot of sing alongs, and have grown to respect and be intrigued by what makes a song such a solid rock that most of the public wants to sing it together for years and years. I can't overstate just how well"This Land is Your Land" takes over just about any crowd. And why is that? I want melodies that rock solid. There is no crowd that isn't almost compelled to sing along with "Hey Jude."

So I want them both: the strange and the unshakeable.


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Hugh Hamilton

10/26/2008 11:38:18 AM ---- Updated 10/26/2008 11:39:00 AM


Your ethos reminds me of Mr. Aven. I can dig it, but in a general sense and with no reference to your work "the strange" (particularly when it comes to time signatures) often winds up bouncing me off the wagon and leaving me in a ditch by the side of the road.


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Bob Elliott

10/27/2008 2:53:05 PM


When "the strange" is not also "accessible," it's not good enough.

I want strange, and I want classic in the same package. That's pretty much the aim. Some element(s) have to be odd or it's not me. The rhythm, the topic, the chord patterns, the rhym patterns, the melody, the arrangement..something's gotta be odd...

But at the same time it's gotta be having a feel like you want to sing it. I want to take the oddness and make it go down palatable, even delicious. To just be odd is nothing...to have some oddness and still that grab...that's the thing.

People shouldn't necessarily even be aware of the oddness...just blend it all together...

I think Lennon wa pretty good at that.

I think my song "First Contact" was pretty good at that. It has a feel of a standard folk song almost, singable sort of thing with a story...

but the story is kind of strange, and the arrangement is unusual...

yet it gets over to the average person.


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Hop On Pop

10/28/2008 5:19:08 AM ---- Updated 10/28/2008 5:19:59 AM


First of all, I know exactly what you mean and what you are striving for; I'm going for the same thing on this new record that I'm making now.

Secondly, as you already know, I am a big fan of your music and do think that you have a sound of your own.

Thirdly, I think that what you really want to hear is something like THIS


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Steve Ison

10/28/2008 2:32:35 PM


Todd..Your link dosn't work mate..

Bob..I love strange too..I guess thats part of being creative musically-the way i see it..That i constantly want to suprise myself.
Even with songs from others i'm hearing for the first time,i don't like it if i can predict basically where the songs gonna go in the first 5 seconds..That always feels like the artist is abit asleep..I want music that wakes me up,sends me on a journey,creates different moods,has prescence..

I've been at a friends and she's been playing Incredible String Band and 60s Roy Harper..I've never heard either of them before but so much of their music is amazing..So free-spirited-unpredictable,yet totally accessible,intuitive and emotionally resonant too..Weird song structures,time changes-songs within songs-really inspiring stuff..Its where i wanna go with my music..

I think the 'accessible' part has alot to do with peoples taste too-I mean you've gotta be a little open-minded to allow strange in..
If someone's taste is very conservative,i.e just 'groove' n dance,modern country,12 bar blues or something-any slight wandering off the well-trodden harmonic/ rythmic path just won't be digestable at all......


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SILVERWOODSTUDIO

10/28/2008 5:34:18 PM


'the Incredible String band' and 'Steeleye Span' both Brits -----have pride of place in our 33 vinyl collection---Glad you found one of them Steve!!

But Bob----ewe blew me away talking about the 'Magic' that unfolds at a sing a long
---arranged or accidental--

there is no doubt that a spontanious breaking into song by a group (wine helps)
takes on a life ----beyond the music???

Playing solo accoustic guitar I did just 4 songs as a guest artist last Saturday

10 Guitars--- by engelbert humperdick (a kiwi drinking anthem) 3 chords
Irene good night----blues of course 3 chords
Peggy Sue---Buddy Holly
Lily the Pink---Scaffold 2 chords

I had intended to play some beatles covers --but reading the crowd, and the alcohol buzz--- I knew it wouldn't work----so I closed my eyes and just sang what came out------I wandered around the room, and had eye contact with anyone who could focus-----

Lily the Pink was a near riot!!!!! great chorus

We'll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the pink the pink the pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compounds
Most efficatious in every case!

8^D


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Bob Elliott

10/28/2008 9:14:58 PM


Todd, I really thought your link was gonna take me to something you're working on, but then I think you were directing me to the KIAC hitline. I have a feeling your new album is gonna kill. I really liked the one track you had up about four months ago. I think it was the first you'd done for your new stuff. I liked, too, that it was so very different from your other album. I like your other album plenty, but the idea of coming out so different is an idea I really understand.

Steve, I've never heard those bands, but now I am gonna check 'em out.

Silver- I'm fascinated by songs built strong enough that groups of voices want to ride over them together decade after decade. That is a force to be reckoned with.

Part of my summer gig is to do a sing along at a camp fire. This is not something I wanted to do. That was very foolish of me not to want to do this, because it taught me and changed me a great deal as a musician.

I can pick whatever tunes I want for the sing along, but over the years I've honed in on what really works across generations and types.

I also do a solo show at the same gig, and man they pay like no one else ever did.


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Richard Scotti

10/29/2008 9:52:36 PM


Silverwood-"There are colors in my painting box... I see all the colors there it's true, And lately when I look inside my painting box, I seem to see the colors of you."


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